Thursday, 19 November 2015

What is Technology Doing to Us?

by Sienna Bentley

I'm going to be brutally honest. I probably check my phone once or twice every 10-15 minutes. I sit on it for hours when I get home when I undoubtedly have more important things to do with my time. I’m constantly checking social media, to see what everyone else is doing and to talk to my friends, even though I know I’m going to see them all at school twelve hours later. And you might not admit it but I can guess you probably do it too. But my question is… Why? Why is checking what other people are doing more important than what we ourselves are doing? Why are we staring at a screen that detaches us from reality and sends us into a world that isn’t even real? 

We’re all guilty of it. Like I said, I check my phone, whether it just be for the time, or checking if i have any messages or notifications, roughly twice in ten minutes. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, which means I check my phone 288 times per day. Sounds crazy, right?

Technology allows us to do things that used to be impossible, and it enables us to access information quickly and efficiently. However, while that is incredibly convenient, is it preventing us from reaching our full potential? Could it be possible that we are becoming addicted?

The definition of an addiction: the condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit.

It’s safe to say I am abnormally dependent on my phone. Obviously I cannot speak for everyone, and I’m not trying to suggest that everybody is like me, but I would guess that the majority of people in this school own a phone or some kind of device and use it regularly. 

Time magazine found that 68% of users take their devices to bed with them, 20% check their phones every ten minutes and one third say they feel anxious when they are briefly separated from their gadget. According to Osterman Research, 79% of respondents take their work-related device on holiday and 33% admit to hiding from family and friends in order to check Facebook and Twitter. 

So it definitely sounds like some people are abnormally dependent on their devices.  

72% of adults who use the internet use social media and the average user spends 23 hours a week on social media. These 23 hours include texting, email and other online communication. 67% of users asked said this is because they’re afraid they will miss something. This fear seems to run so deep that almost 40% of users aged 18 to 34 check social media before doing anything else first thing in the morning. 

Therefore, I believe social media plays a huge role in this seemingly inevitable addiction we have to our phones. We have this human need for self-expression, especially self-expression in which we get feedback from others. We post pictures onto social media websites like Facebook or Instagram and thrive off of ‘likes’ and comments, but we only post what we want others to see. What we post is not really an accurate portrayal of our actual lives. However, this need to express ourselves online and communicate virtually is cutting us off from real life. We shy away from strangers. We're all guilty of it to an extent; a random woman came up to me yesterday on the train platform and started a conversation with me, telling me all of her problems and asking me about mine. Immediately I wondered to myself if she was crazy, yet all she was doing was talking to me. 

Constantly staring at a screen with headphones in your ears isolates you from the people in the immediate, real world around you. This unwillingness to connect to real people can lead to extreme isolation, which could lead to other problems such as anxiety or sleep deprivation. While you may have a lot of Facebook friends—people you would have never met otherwise—do they really provide the kind of human interaction that is essential for your health?

I often find myself sitting on a full train-carriage, yet it is completely and utterly silent. When I look around, almost every person is staring at a screen. This in itself just shows that we are a lot more interested in what other people are doing somewhere else rather than what we are doing. Or perhaps we are too engrossed in sharing a particular moment instead of living in and enjoying it. It also shows that we are becoming more and more afraid of strangers and real life communication. I know for a fact that when they are in a public place, people unlock their phones just to look at them, to make it look like they are not alone and that they have people to talk to. I think a lot of this stems from the way society is becoming shaped… People are constantly worrying about what other people think of them, when really… those other people aren’t even paying attention. 

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you spoke to a stranger, and reconnected with the world? You might have a pleasant conversation, or worse, make a friend

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